Regular vs. Stiff Club Flex: What golf club shaft flex is right for me?
Using the wrong golf shaft flex is like wearing the wrong shoe size. Performance can be hampered, with poor swing mechanics becoming more prominent when the wrong shaft flex is used. Research even shows us that it specifically affects ball launch conditions.
Ideally, when you are purchasing new clubs, you are going in and getting a complete fitting by a professional who will take all factors into consideration and set you up with the perfect clubs to match your swing.
But before you schedule your next fitting, take a few moments to get a basic understanding of varying golf shaft flexibilities and how to match them with your swing. The goal here is to assist you in making a more informed golf club purchase decision.
What does Flex mean in golf clubs?
Golf club shaft flex refers to the bend in a club when a player swings and makes an impact with the golf ball. The shaft flex can have a significant impact on a player’s swing and should be selected based on a few different factors identified by a proper club fitting session.
The two largest factors that contribute to the selection of the right golf shafting are your swing speed and swing tempo.
Swing Speed vs. Swing Tempo
Swing speed is measured in miles per hour. It is very easy to measure this, as most golf courses have speed sticks available to members and customers. But speed isn’t everything. The tempo of the swing is very important. For instance, look at the swing of 2021 Masters Champion Hideki Matsuyama compared to the 2007 Masters Champion Zach Johnson. Both players have a swing speed of 110-115, but the tempo is the opposite. The faster tempo of Zach would benefit from a heavier shaft. The slower tempo of Hideki would benefit from a lighter shaft.
Different Club Flex Options
It is important to use the correct flex option that suits your swing. If the shaft is too soft, it will typically flex more through impact and cause the clubhead to close and start the ball to the left with added spin. If the shaft is too stiff, it will typically cause the clubhead to come through impact a little more open and cause the shot to come off weak and low right. Let’s break down some different flex options based on driver swing speed.
- Ladies Flex or L-Flex <72 mph – This option isn’t just for women, but this is where many recreational female golfers find themselves.
- Senior Flex or A-Flex 72-83 mph – Slow swings fall into this category. The flex of the club allows slower swings to easily hit the ball in the air and improve their feel and control.
- Regular Flex or R-Flex 84-96 mph – Regular flex is the range that most recreational golfers and a lot of LPGA Pro fall into.
- Stiff Flex or S-Flex 97-104 mph – This flex is for recreational golfers that swing fast. Very common shaft for high-level amateur players.
- Extra Stiff Flex or X-Flex >105 mph – Extra Stiff is where you find most high-level players who require the extra stiff shaft to help increase accuracy and a more penetrating ball flight.
Club Shaft Kick Point
The kick point is mistakenly thought of as being a wide variance; the high kick point being up by the grip and the low kick point being down by the clubhead. But this isn’t true. The kick point is actually a small 6” section in the middle of the shaft.
Shafts will typically use trajectory descriptors rather than note what kick point they may have. A good rule of thumb here is;
- High bend point, low trajectory.
- Low bend point, high trajectory.
How to Choose the Correct Club Flex
So, let’s take what we have learned from above and apply it to selecting a new driver.
Your starting point should be your swing speed. Measure your swing speed to make sure you are selecting the correct flex. If your swing speed is somewhere in the middle, let’s say you swing right at 97 mph, consider what your current shot shape is. If you typically hit a big slice, that can be compounded by having a shaft that is too stiff, which means a Regular flex shaft is ideal.
Next, think about what shot shape you want to see. If you like hitting a higher ball off the tee, try and look for a shaft that has a low kick point. Also, if you are like me and prefer a lower piercing tee-ball, go with a shaft that has a high kick point.
And lastly, how is your tempo? If you are a slow, controlled backswing, go with a lighter shaft. Quick and aggressive backswing go with a heavier shaft to help keep things under control.
In the end, it really comes down to preference and trial and error. Using the factors above will still only get you in the ballpark of the correct shaft. You will ultimately want to play around with a few options and find what works best for you.